Fighting Germs in Gyms Never Ends

One last thought about germs. Those little buggers are everywhere! Or at least, that's what you might think with all the hype about how the flu bug, common cold viruses, MRSA and other unpronounceable bacteria are lurking everywhere, including within your facility. In order to prevent yourself and your members from picking up these germs, you might need to hand out bubble suits as members enter the front doors. But honestly, how good of a workout can you get in a bubble suit?

As over-hyped as I think the germ situation can get at times, I still carry around my disinfectant lotion, and I was elated when my gym started providing paper towels and spray bottles of disinfectant liquid so that members could wipe down equipment before using it. I've noticed that more club members than I care to count never took to heart the hygiene lessons that the rest of us learned as children.

Lesson No. 1 for many of us was to wash our hands after using the restroom. But how many times have you seen staff and members walk right past the sinks and out the locker room door after exiting a stall? Obviously, they turned a deaf ear to those hygiene lectures, just as some others turned deaf ears to lectures about throwing away trash. I've seen wrappers from power bars (or even candy), disposable plastic bottles, newspapers and even fast food containers scattered in the locker room. Lunch in the locker room, anyone? Yum!

Some members also hoard the disinfectant spray bottle that you've placed in strategic locations around your facility. These “germ rats” take the bottle to their machine and spray it from top to bottom, then keep the bottle at their machine for their entire 60-minute workout. I've determined they do this for one of three reasons: they plan to wipe down the equipment after they are done (kudos to them for the thought), they are afraid someone will jump on their freshly cleaned piece of equipment while they are returning the bottle (perhaps a valid concern during peak times), or they are too lazy to walk the bottle back to its designated spot. (I'd put my money on this reason.)

Whatever the reason behind the spray bottle hoarding, these members' actions cause others to roam the floor in search of the spray bottle, only to wind up exasperated and at your front desk to complain about its disappearance. Maybe the spray bottles need a balloon tied to them like many club owners tie balloons to the remote controls.

And then we get to downright disgusting issues. Every now and again, everyone has to spit for one reason or another. But does anyone have to take a swill of water out of the drinking fountain, swish it around in his or her mouth and then spit the water — and a countless number of germs — back into the fountain, spraying the water projector and everything else?

Although tissue issues usually show up in the winter, I've witnessed problems in the spring and fall when allergy sufferers bring tissues to blow their noses. I'm all for members using a tissue rather than their hands, but leaving the tissue in the cup holder when they leave is just downright gross. I've sometimes sat my water in a bottle holder only to pick it up and find a used tissue hanging off the end.

Probably the worst offenders are members who “forget” to bring their towel — despite your mandatory towel signs. You can only hope that these members are not the same members who begin dripping sweat all over your equipment within the first 10 minutes of their workout. The member who follows the sweaty guy and grabs a moist grip bar or slips on a puddle of sweat will be none too happy.

You would think that club owners wouldn't need to train members in issues of cleanliness, but perhaps they need to start — or start investing in those bubble suits.

Suggested Articles:

The 24 Hour Fitness executive team has been busy on two fronts: implementing new operating protocols to reopen clubs and reportedly looking at how bes

​​​​​​​In several states in which health clubs are still closed, health club operators have taken various steps to move for reopening of their busines

The California Fitness Alliance sent a letter and gym reopening guidelines to the state's governor as well as city and county officials.